Empowerment for women
Article was originally published on 21/05/2021 on unilever.com
Women are at the heart of ekaterra. We’re proud to have strong female representation at the highest levels of the company.
But it’s a sad reality that today, in the 21st century, women are still not yet wholly empowered.
When it comes to tea, women make up 40% of the agricultural workforce in developing countries. And as with many agricultural crops, tea growing and picking depends intensely on women.
These women can sometimes suffer from economic unfairness or worse still, gender-based violence.
At ekaterra, we’re working to improve the lives and livelihoods of women across our tea supply chain.
We’re doing all we can to create healthy, safe working environments. Our aim is to lead by example, setting high welfare standards throughout the tea industry.
On this journey to gender equality, we’re partnering with ekaterra employees as well as tea producers, women’s rights organizations, and local governments.
We’re working with charities and non-governmental organizations the Ethical Tea Partnership, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition and Kenya Tea Development Agency to make permanent, scalable changes.
Here are just some of the things we are doing.
In collaboration with UN agencies, tea producers and civil society organizations, we’ve introduced long-term programmes to prevent and respond to partner violence and sexual harassment in tea gardens and public spaces.
In Kenya plantations alone, initiatives to promote female safety have reached more than 10,000 women.
We also engage men and boys to get to the core of the problem, shifting gender stereotypes and norms. Our work informed UN Women’s step-by-step approach, A Global Women's Safety Framework in Rural Spaces .
By teaming up with the Ethical Tea Partnership and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), we’re reaching out to farmers, workers and their families – with a focus on women – to improve people’s diets and nutrition through initiatives like the Seeds of Prosperity programme.
In collaboration with the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA), we’re training women in good agricultural practices. And we’re helping set up village savings and loan association groups, giving women extra financial opportunities and boosting their farming skills.
And in partnership with KTDA and IDH – a sustainable trade initiative – we’re running an in-depth programme to build skills in financial literacy and business development.
How our brands are helping
At an individual brand level, we’re working hard in regions where women’s lack of empowerment is a significant issue.
For instance, since 2019 our brand JOKO in South Africa has partnered with People Opposing Women Abuse (POWA) to end the silence surrounding domestic violence.
In 2022, JOKO used the online rallying cry #EndDomesticSilence to encourage women to speak out and find a space where they’ll be listened to, believed in, and supported.